The Assassination of the Duke of Guise (film, 1908)

The Assassination of the Duke of Guise is a French silent film released in 1908 , directed by André Calmettes after a story by Henri Lavedan . The title as it appears in the very short generic (only one box ) of the original film is The Death of the Duke of Guise, although a poster of the film indicates instead The Assassination of the Duke of Guise 1. Camille Saint Saëns is the author of the film’s music.


The film chronicles a famous historical episode, the day of 23 December 1588 , in which Henry I st of Lorraine, Duke of Guise , a rival of King Henry III , was summoned by the latter in Blois , plunging into a bottomless sorrow the Marquise de Noirmoutier , his mistress. He is stabbed to death by the royal bodyguards at the castle of Blois .

The Assassination of the Duke of Guise (1908), André Calmettes , music Camille Saint-Saëns . Duration: 16 minutes.

Technical sheet

  • Title: The Assassination of the Duke of Guise
  • Director: André Calmettes (directed) and Charles Le Bargy (direction of the actors)
  • Screenwriter: Henri Lavedan
  • Production: Frères Laffitte for The Art Film
  • Music: Camille Saint-Saëns , unregistered
  • Sets: Emile Bertin
  • Country of origin: France
  • Format: black and white – 1.33: 1 – mute
  • Release date : ( Paris )
  • Duration: 18 minutes 2


  • Albert Lambert : the Duke of Guise
  • Charles Le Bargy : Henry III
  • Gabrielle Robinne : the Marquise de Noirmoutier
  • Berthe Bovy : the page
  • Albert Dieudonné
  • Jean Angelo
  • Huguette Duflos
  • Raphaël Duflos
  • Charles Lorrain
  • Rolla Norman

Around the film

First film produced and directed by the new production company, The Art Film , The Assassination of the Duke of Guise is presented for the first time on November 17, 1908 in Paris in a cinema on rue Charras . At first, the reception that is reserved for him is particularly warm. Charles Pathé, himself, tells the leaders of the Art Film: “Ah! Gentlemen, you are stronger than us! ” 2


This film is part of the first French film to meet a huge international success ( A Trip to the Moon , of Georges Méliès , was the predecessor), and it is the only one can wear the benefit of the production company The Art Film , whose subsequent releases are rather disastrous.

The film is essentially worth for the remarkable and new performance of the comedian Charles Le Bargy , of the Comédie-Française , who, after a personal study pushed on the acting in the silent context of the cinema of the time, chooses to contain the movements of his body – thus opposing the gesticulations of pantomimes which reigned on the sets of filming – in favor of the expressions of his face, of mimicry. He imposed on his troop slow, measured, expressive gestures. And almost immobility he adopted at times, contrasting with the bustle of the characters Méliès 3 ‘ .

The success of the film is partly due to the quality of the screenplay written by Henri Lavedan .

An original music is composed especially for the film by Camille Saint-Saëns , but is not recorded at the time. It has been since 4 , listed under the title Opus 128 for strings, piano and harmonium 5 .


  • François Albera , ” The Assassination of the Duke of Guise , product” semi-finished “? “In 1895. Review of the French Association for Research on the history of film , o 56, Carou Alain and Beatrice De Pastre (ed.),” The Film Art & art films in Europe ( 1908-1911), December 2008 ( ISBN  978-2-913758-57-5 ) , p.  94-122 DOI : 10.4000 / 1895.4065 .
  • Christophe Gauthier , “History of a crime. Lives and Deaths of the Duke of Guise, “in 1895. Review of the French Association for Research on the history of film , o 56, Carou Alain and Beatrice De Pastre (ed.),” The Film Art & the Art Films in Europe (1908-1911) “, December 2008 ( ISBN  978-2-913758-57-5 ) , p.  173-190 DOI : 10.4000 / 1895.4069 .
  • (en) Richard Abel ( ed. ) and Rick Altman ( eds. ), The Sounds of Early Cinema , Bloomington / Indianapolis, Indiana University Press ,, 327 p. ( ISBN  0-253-21479-3 ).
  • Philippe d’Hugues ( dir. ) And Michel Marmin ( dir. ), The French Cinema: The Mute , Paris, Editions Atlas,.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Poster of the film  [ archive ]
  2. ↑ a and b of Hugues and Marmin 1986 , p.  68.
  3. ↑ Georges Sadoul , history of world cinema from its origins to today , Paris, Flammarion ,, 719 p. p.  70.
  4. ↑ Oblique Music Ensemble – Harmonia Mundi 1951472  [ archive ]
  5. ↑ Gilles MOUELLIC, Music film , Cahiers du Cinema. The score is downloadable on Wikipedia at this address:,_Op.128_(Saint-Sa%C3%ABns,_Camille)  [ archive ]

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